If the Jacksons could do it and the Osmonds could do it, then, by gosh, so could the Sylvers. By the mid-'70s, this multi-talented, nine-member family group was recording veterans. And having peppered the R&B charts with singles in the early part of the decade,the Sylvers would take the top spot with the seminal proto-disco "Boogie Fever" in 1975.
Produced by Freddie Perren, who had already brought magic to the Jackson 5, "Boogie Fever" had all the right stuff. And while the song draws easy comparisons to Perren's work with the Jacksons, it also stands strong in its own right. It was catchy, hooky, well-harmonized, and would set the primary tone for 1976's Showcase. However, although Perren gave the band a bona fide hit, his style also firmly entrenched the band on the bubblegum road -- a path they would not truly depart from until later in the decade. That said, while both "The Roulette Wheel of Love" and "Ain't No Good in Goodbye" are firmly stamped with Perren's style, there is much more percolating across the album. Leon Sylvers, who would later find success with the famed Solar label, demonstrated a genuine flair for funk as he wielded his pen for "Clap Your Hands to the Music" and "Freestyle." The latter, which opens side two, is a particularly juicy, enthusiastically sung, and horn-heavy jam that allies itself more to the funk of Kool & the Gang than to Motown soul.
Showcase mishmashes its sounds, and while the result is good, it really does feel at times like a revue -- a little bit funky, a little bit soul. But that's its only real failing. For the most part, the Sylvers have enough kick to keep the groove going all night long.